Sound naming in neurodegenerative disease


Modern cognitive neuroscientific theories and empirical evidence suggest that brain structures involved in movement may be related to action-related semantic knowledge. To test this hypothesis, we examined the naming of environmental sounds in patients with corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), two neurodegenerative diseases associated with cognitive and motor deficits. Subjects were presented with 56 environmental sounds: 28 sounds were of objects that required manipulation when producing the sound, and 28 sounds were of objects that required no manipulation. Subjects were asked to provide the name of the object that produced the sound and also complete a sound-picture matching condition. Subjects included 33 individuals from four groups: CBD/PSP, Alzheimer disease, frontotemporal dementia, and normal controls. We hypothesized that CBD/PSP patients would exhibit impaired naming performance compared with controls, but the impairment would be most apparent when naming sounds associated with actions. We also explored neural correlates of naming environmental sounds using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) of brain MRI. As expected, CBD/PSP patients scored lower on environmental sounds naming (ptextless0.007) compared with the controls. In particular, the CBD/PSP patients scored the lowest when naming sounds of manipulable objects (ptextless0.05), but did not show deficits in naming sounds of non-manipulable objects. VBM analysis across all groups showed that performance in naming sounds of manipulable objects correlated with atrophy in the left pre-motor region, extending from area six to the middle and superior frontal gyrus. These results indicate an association between impairment in the retrieval of action-related names and the motor system, and suggest that difficulty in naming manipulable sounds may be related to atrophy in the pre-motor cortex. Our results support the hypothesis that retrieval of action-related semantic knowledge involves motor regions in the brain.

Brain Cogn